FanPost

James van Riemsdyk's road to the NHL: Potential finally being fulfilled.

Profiles - James van Riemsdyk.

Hometown: New Jersey
Size: 6'3/211 lbs.
Position: LW

Fun Fact: JVR was an avid New York Rangers fan growing up


Assets: Is a very skilled player with great hands, owns great size which allows him to score goals in tight, is a very good skater, knows exactly what to do on odd-man rushes, is a good passer, solid defensively, can kill penalties.


Flaws: Could stand to use his size in a more physical manner, must find more game-to-game consistency as he often scores in bunches.


It seems like James van Riemsdyk has been waiting his entire career to breakout, and show to the world what kind of a player he is. After scoring a respectable amount of points for the United States Developmental Program, JVR became an important prospect for the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, due to his superb combination of size, speed, skill and magic hands. Going into the NHL Draft, van Riemsdyk was listed as the third best North American skater, behind Kyle Turris and Patrick Kane. On June 22nd, 2007, van Riemsdyk was selected second overall by the Philadelphia Flyers and immediately expectations were sky-high in a hockey city longing for a winning team.


After another season with the New Hampshire Wildcats of the Hockey East League and a brief 7 game tryout with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, van Riemsdyk went into the offseason prior to the 2009-10 campaign determined to earn a spot in the Flyers' lineup. Van Riemsdyk was expected to spend a full year in the AHL with the Phantoms, but his sights were set on earning an NHL roster spot, and he did just that. During a rookie game against the Capitals' in the preseason, van Riemsdyk scored 4 goals, drawing the attention of the Flyers' brass. He followed it up with a two goal performance in a preseason game against the Detroit Red Wings, and a strong showing overall in the preseason games he played in. The Flyers chose to take a leap of faith in van Riemsdyk, and hoped that what they had seen was not merely a hot streak.


When the regular season started, van Riemsdyk was put on the third line, next to another budding star in Claude Giroux. As he settled in he eventually scored his first point and his first goal, followed by a very strong month of November posting 4 goals and 9 points earning the Rookie of the Month title. JVR continued his solid play throughout year, and by season's end he had recorded 15 goals and 35 points in 78 regular season games. Better yet, the Flyers were a playoff team.


Philadelphia entered the postseason set for a matchup against the New Jersey Devils, and cruised past them in 5 games, JVR helped by scoring one point in the series. The Flyers moved on to face the Boston Bruins in the second round, and history was made for the franchise. After 3 games against Boston, the Flyers found themselves down 3-0 in the series, a game away from being swept in front of their home crowd. In overtime of Game 4 Simon Gagne provided the heroics to defeat the Bruins, cutting the series lead to 2. During Game 5, in Boston Michael Leighton and Simon Gagne, once again, played superb games to lift the Flyers within one game, going back into Philly. Game 6 proved to be yet another win for the Broad Street Bullies, defeating the Bruins by a score of 2-1. The Flyers had the Bruins on the ropes, and were one win away from an epic comeback.


Game 7 was in the TD Garden in Boston. The Bruins came out flying, scoring three consecutive goals in the first period. Late in the first, a spark was provided by Mr. James van Riemsdyk, making it a 3-1 game. Scott Hartnell, Daniel Briere, and Simon Gagne would complete the comeback, sending the Flyers off to the conference finals, to face the Montreal Canadiens. After the game, captain Mike Richards had this to say about JVR, "We rode the shoulders of a 20 year old for two periods before our game kicked in and we took over from there. We are lucky to have him." The Flyers ended up beating the Canadiens in 5, before losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. It was an experience that proved extremely positive for van Riemsdyk's development. He knew what it took to be successful in the playoffs, and he was ready to bring that to his game next season.

In the 2010-11 season, in an increased role, JVR had similar production, and his game was somewhat stagnant compared to the year before. The Flyers made it into the playoffs once again, and van Riemsdyk was ready to prove that he could be relied upon in the postseason. The Flyers lasted 11 games, but van Riemsdyk scored a ridiculous 7 goals. Flyers' fans were convinced that JVR had finally broken out.


During the 2011-12 season, the expectations were higher than they had ever been for van Riemsdyk. However, JVR's season was much of the same. He put up respectable numbers during an injury riddled season, scoring at a 20 goal pace, much like the year before. He hadn't made the strides that many had expected him to. Fans, as they often do, began to grow impatient. Rumours began to surface about a deal with the Leafs, who were looking to add some size up front. The season passed and for the second year in a row the Flyers weren't able to make a deep run into the playoffs. Chris Pronger had suffered a pontential career ending injury to the eye, and the prospects of the team defensively were not looking strong. The Flyers had a plethora of young forwards in Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Claude Giroux and others. Someone was on the way out of Philadelphia.


On June 23rd, 2012, despite just entering the first year of a multi-year contract, James van Riemsdyk was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs, for young defenseman Luke Schenn. It was a blockbuster move, and one that would prove to be very beneficial for the Maple Leafs.


Toronto fans had been waiting since 2004 for a playoff berth, and van Riemsdyk was considered as an important piece of the puzzle. JVR hadn't missed the playoffs once in his NHL career, and he wasn't planning on missing it with the Leafs.

As the season started, JVR began the first game alongside Nazem Kadri and Leo Komarov on the third line. However, three games into the season, left wingers Joffrey Lupul and Clarke MacArthur both went down with injuries. Lupul was sidelined for more than month with a broken forearm, while MacArthur was day-to-day with a lacerated finger. A significant spot opened up for van Riemsdyk, and he did not disappoint. Next to Phil Kessel on the first line, JVR amassed superb numbers scoring 18 goals, and 32 points in 48 games (prorated 31 goals, and 55 points). He continued his solid play into the playoffs, showing his experience and poise, scoring 7 points in 7 games. He demonstrated to all the Leaf fans who believed in him, the Flyers' fans management who doubted him, and to himself, that he could be a star player in the NHL. JVR had finally broken out.

Van Riemsdyk is only 24 years old, and he has played in four playoffs and been to the Cup finals. He may not be old, but he has the experience of a seasoned veteran. He was always made out to be a future star in the NHL, and that is exactly what he has become.


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